Military Implements Security Measures in Bhamo Following Arrival of Flotilla

Following the arrival of a military flotilla at a river port in Bhamo, soldiers have been restricting the movement of residents and preventing people from leaving and entering the town in Kachin State.

“They only allow government staff to travel around the town. They won’t even allow people to go to the market. If they suspect anyone, they’ll arrest them on the street,” a source said, while requesting for his name not be published. The town hasn’t been so empty since an outbreak during the pandemic, he said.

The security measures in Bhamo came into effect on 19 August, the same day the nine military vessels moored in the Irrawaddy River next to the town. On that day soldiers shot at a man on a motorcycle when he didn’t stop at a checkpoint.

Another local, who also requested anonymity, said soldiers have been transporting food rations, weapons, and military equipment from the military vessels, which is why they are checking everyone and controlling who can come and go. “Soldiers are stopping all travelers to look inside their motorcycle toolbox or check their mobile phone,” he said.

The army has already shut down phone services in all of the villages in southern Bhamo Township, and some people traveling through this area are stuck.

Resistance forces have been attacking the flotilla at parts of its route since it left Mandalay on 27 July. Soldiers on the vessels have indiscriminately shelled villages along the way, and ground forces protecting the flotilla have raided people’s homes.

The Military Council has been unable to deliver vital rations and weapons to its troops using the main roads for some time after enduring significant casualties during regular ambushes from the resistance groups. The resistance has limited long-range weapons, which is why the regime is sending supplies using the river. Due to its width, it offers more protection from ambushes.

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